West Yorkshire buses could return to public control

It is West Yorkshire Combined Authority‘s intention to start the process of bringing the region’s buses back into public control. The move is part of Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin’s, manifesto pledge.

Officers at the local authority have prepared a paper which sets the process out to advise on this decision. The powers to make a franchising scheme have only been available in West Yorkshire since becoming a Mayoral Combined Authority and the Mayor coming into office in May this year.

The earliest date an operational franchise could come into being is in late 2025.

The Combined Authority intends to push the current bus operators towards the goal of cheaper, simpler bus fares, green buses and a more reliable service immediately. To achieve this quickly, its papers recommend the establishment of an Enhanced Partnership with a review date of April 2023, which will coincide with the conclusion of the audit stage for the Franchise Assessment and the start of public consultation. To deliver changes in the shorter term, the Combined Authority is to bid for a share of £3 billion in funding made available by Government to support bus services during the recovery from the pandemic and create an Enhanced Partnership by April 2022.

“The plans we’ve published are the first step to fulfilling one of my key pledges: to bring our buses back into public control” – Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “The plans we’ve published are the first step to fulfilling one of my key pledges: to bring our buses back into public control. I want buses to be the first choice for travel in our region. Not because you don’t have a car, but because they’re more affordable, convenient to use, and better for the environment. Our buses should work for us, not the other way round.

“I want more choice and better service for bus users. Simple and affordable fares, green buses, quicker, more frequent journeys, running where and when people need them. So if you’re working an early or late shift in the hospitality sector or our NHS, or on a night out, you should be able to count on there being a safe bus to get you home.”

The plans will be discussed by the Mayor and the region’s political leaders at the next meeting of the Combined Authority on Thursday 24 June.

The next step will be the publication of a Bus Services Improvement Plan in October with the delivery of these improvements planned over the next three years.

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